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Japanese Nami Wave Eternal treasure of Bunkyuu, Bunkyuu Eiho 4 Mon 1863 AD

Japanese coin Bunkyuu Eiho 4 Mon 1863 AD.
Eternal treasure of the Bunkyuu era

weight: 3.7 grams; size: 26.5 mm; Bronze


The Tokugawa itself started producing a 4 mon coin with a new legend in 1863.

This is the Bunkyuu eihou. Bunkyuu refers to the Bunkyuu era which lasted from 1861-1863. Eihou means something like eternal cash or eternally circulating cash. To Tokugawa government however collapsed a mere 5 years after minting the coin and its hopeful name did not come true. It is interesting that the government chose to use a new and current era name for the coin, rather than sticking with the tradition of the Kan'ei moniker. Perhaps the rulers was hoping that a new era meant a reformation and invigoration of Tokugawa rule, but the new era actually meant collapse.

The Tokugawa government first commissioned in 1768 a Kan'ei Tsuuhou coin valued at 4 mon. The first version was made at the Fukagawa mint in Edo and had a design of 21 waves on the back of the coin (see image above). In 1769 the design of the reverse changed to have only 11 waves and all subsequent versions used the 11 wave design. It was not much larger than a 1 mon coin (27-28 mm vs 25-26 mm) and so it was cost effective to produce. This was desirable in a time when there was a growing scarcity of copper. Because the economy itself was usually growing in this period the coins were readily accepted by users. The government ordered a new batch of this same coin made in the period 1821-1825. These are largely identical but the quality is much moer varied, which is to say that many of the 4 mon from this era are of poor manufacture. The metal content of these also tend to be more on the reddish side than the earlier coins which have a higher admixture of other metals than copper. Because these coins were manufactured in the Bunsei period (1818-1829) They are called Bunsei coins by collectors, in contrast to the earlier ones which are called Meiwa coins (from the Meiwa era 1764-1771). The Bunsei coins are as common as the Meiwa coins. One more period of minting was in the Ansei era (1854-1859). There is variation but they tend to be on the yellowish brassy side and the file used to smooth the face is very rough, leaving clear file marks on the face. In 1860, under grave financial difficulties the Tokugawa government began minting the coin in iron but this was relatively unsuccessful and the coins are moderately uncommon.

This is one of the Bunkyuu Eiho ("eternal treasure of the Bunkyuu era") minted from 1863. This is the "soubun" which means "cursive script" style, although it is hardly cursive. Only the first two strokes of the Bun character are slightly less than formal and the rest are formal script. The three basic types are pictured here.

26.5 mm x 1 mm

文久永寳 草文

Type A

This is the second of the basic Bunkyuu Eiho types. It is known as the "ryakuhou" or "simplified Hou" type, and also known as the "tamahou" type meaning "Hou written with the character 'tama'" in it. Bunkyuu Eihou tend to be brassy or blackish in color and the file marks are rough and clearly visible.

26.5 mm x 1 mm

文久永寳 略宝/玉宝

Type B

This is the third of the basic Bunkyuu Eiho types. It is known as the formal script type because the top of the Bun character has a standing dash over a horizontal line. Within the type this is known as the "thin character" subtype and is the most common.

27 mm x 1 mm

文久永寳 真文細字

Type C





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Japanese Nami Wave Eternal treasure of Bunkyuu, Bunkyuu Eiho 4 Mon 1863 AD Japan